The History of Hawai‘i From Our Files: The Man Behind The Honolulu Marathon

HONOLULU Magazine emerged from predecessor Paradise of the Pacific, which began in 1888, fulfilling a commission by King Kalākaua. That makes this the oldest continuously published magazine west of the Mississippi with an enviable archive worth diving into each month. Here’s a look back at November 2001.


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Dr. Jack Scaff



In 1996, Dr. Jack Scaff tells HONOLULU Magazine that he will finish that year’s 24th annual Honolulu Marathon even if he has to “waddle through it.” Of the arduous 26.2 miles, Scaff says, “It takes forever, but my wife walks with me.” In 1973, Scaff transformed the Mid-Pacific Road Runners 30K into a marathon, mapping out a route from the south to the east side of the island. Just 163 runners showed up the first year.


SEE ALSO: Field Notes: These People Will Help You Complete Your First Honolulu Marathon


The cardiologist, now 86, was an avid runner who believed cardio exercises could help prevent heart disease and improve the health of heart attack survivors—something that was still a theory in the 1970s. Scaff struggled with his own health, but he kept active with the clinics he created. In 2019, medical issues prompted him to rely on a wheelchair. However, none of that has affected his passion for the marathon and cheering on those in pursuit of the finish line.


SEE ALSO: HONOLULU Magazine’s Social Distancing Fitness Challenge: Start Running to Get Out


This year, the Honolulu Marathon is scheduled to take place (laces crossed) on Dec. 12. Tens of thousands of locals and visitors from all over the globe will lace up their sneaks before the crack of dawn. Though Scaff won’t be one of them, he’s already won the race that he set out to win, bringing a Boston-size marathon to Hawai‘i. Without his dedication at the start, one of the largest races might’ve taken a different, less motivating, route. Scaff says, “If you’re going to be a leader, you should be a leader out front and not in the back.”


12 21 Hm Fof Web Covers


Learn more about the evolution of covers in HONOLULU Magazine and Paradise of the Pacific: 125 Years of Covers, available at



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